Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll: America Divided on Gun Laws

Americans are deeply conflicted as to what, if anything can be done with new gun legislation in the aftermath of the murders of nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church, according to a Suffolk University/USA TODAY nationwide poll.

While 40 percent said that tightening gun control laws and background checks will prevent more mass shootings in the United States, 56 percent disagreed. However, when asked if easier access to guns would stop mass shootings, 18 percent agreed and 76 percent disagreed.

“There is more desire to tighten than to loosen,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “But the poll reveals a thread of feeling that nothing can be done to make any meaningful changes.”

Forty-seven percent of those polled said that the South Carolina attack was the action of a lone gunman in an isolated incident. Thirty-eight percent said it was a reflection of a larger problem of racism in America.

Gun control

A majority of respondents (53 percent) said it is unlikely that Congress will pass tighter gun control laws in the foreseeable future, while 15 percent said the chances for such legislative action are good or excellent. They were divided on whether the issue of gun control should be a significant subject of debate among the 2016 presidential candidates, with 43 percent saying it should be a key topic, while 52 percent said it should not. The responses diverged along racial lines, with 70 percent of black respondents wanting gun control to be a major concern, as opposed to 37 percent of white respondents.

Confederate flag

Gov. Nikki Haley has called for the Confederate flag’s removal from South Carolina state offices, yet people are divided about the flag’s symbolism. In the South, 49 percent said that it represents Southern history and heritage and is not racist, while 34 percent said it is racist and should be removed from official locations. In all other regions, more people (46 percent) said it is a racist symbol than did not (38 percent). But when the Southern responses are factored in nationally, there are 42 percent on either side of the issue.

When asked if there should be a federal ban on the production and sale of items featuring the Confederate symbols, 70 percent opposed and 19 percent supported the idea.

New face for $10 bill

With the Treasury scheduled to replace the image on the $10 bill with that of a woman who has championed democracy in America, the following were the top choices in open-ended suggestions:

Eleanor Roosevelt, 8 percent
Rosa Parks,  5 percent
Harriet Tubman, 4 percent
Susan B. Anthony, 3 percent


The Suffolk University/USA TODAY survey was conducted via landline and cell phone. The field of 1,000 adults was conducted Thursday, June 25, through Monday, June 29. The margin of error is +/-3 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, [email protected].